Sam Ferris is a writer for cricket.com.au. He started in 2011 as a Big Bash League correspondent and has been reporting for the official Cricket Australia website in the World T20. But a man who admits to never being called ‘trendy,’ became a Twitter trend and an unwitting media spectacle for bringing up the R-word in MS Dhoni’s press conference last night after the semifinal defeat against West Indies.
But the Australian journalist, who shared a press conference table with MS Dhoni last night and ended up on every news channel across the country, says that it was something out of the blue from the Indian skipper for a question he thought was ‘pretty standard’.
“And it’s not like at 34 years old hasn’t achieved anything in white-ball cricket; he won the inaugural World T20 in 2007 in South Africa, hit the winning runs, a six no less, to win the 2011 50-over World Cup on home soil, and to complete the trifecta, took out the 2013 Champions Trophy in England,” Ferris wrote in the cricket.com.au website.
Ferris says that the Indian press contingent was going to ask the Indian skipper about his retirement plans anyway, but he became the scapegoat thanks to a rotation system that prevails in press conferences.
“Press conferences operate on a rotation system, so when my turn rolled around, the question still had not been asked, and I went for it. For the record, I never asked if he was going to retire, just how keen he was to play on. I’m not trying to retire one of the greats.
I even prefaced it with “You’ve achieved pretty much everything in cricket” to soften the blow and try to make me not look like some blood-thirsty mosquito looking for a headline (which I most definitely was).”
And Dhoni, who has been known to pounce on journalists uttering the R-word, invited Ferris to join him at the press conference table.
He was welcomed with a warm embrace, a sympathetic arm around the shoulder and the trademark Dhoni smile, but what followed was something the journalist would not have imagined in his wildest dreams.
“Hello, sir?”, Ferris said.
“Do you want me to retire?,” Dhoni gets to the point, smile intact.
“Ahh, no, that’s what I was going to ask you,” Ferris blurts out nervously.
“Do you think I’m unfit, looking at me running?”
“No, you were very fast”
“Do you think I can survive till ’19 World Cup?”
Ferris goes on to narrate his thought process on being asked the question: “ow do I answer this? I don’t know? He can still clearly bat, his ‘keeping is still sharp. But he’s 34, with Virat Kohli waiting in the wings and a troop of elite young batsmen. Better answer quickly!”
“Umm.. yes! sure,” he replies.
“Then you have just answered the question”
Ferris explains that he probably took a bullet for his Indian colleagues in the Press, who would have faced more stick with Dhoni in that kind of mood.
“Word has it Dhoni hates that question and was ready to pounce on an Indian journalist who was going to ask it. Even though I fired the wrong ammunition, it seems I took a bullet for my Indian colleagues.”